Just take my hand
CHAPTER
1
A hand in the dark
I opened my eyes gingerly to the glaring light of a full moon.
A car swept past almost silently, that’s weird were cars usually so quiet? And why was I waking up near a car?
I shook my head, woah bad idea, but at least sound started to come back, first a faint buzzing then honking and music from down the street floating in the night air.
‘Argh’ I groaned, my brain felt like it had been scrambled overnight.
‘Deep breaths Peter’ I said, trying to regain by bearings.
First of all where was I?
I straightened up against the brick wall at my back to properly look at the street around me.
There were rotten newspapers and cardboard and chip packets accompanied by a garnish of mud.
Charming.
I would have worried that it was getting my suit mucked up but looking down I realised I was just wearing pants and my undershirt, the rest of my clothes were gone.
I dug my hands into my pockets feeling some hope but unfortunately someone had taken my wallet and phone too.
That led to the next question: What had happened to me?
The business trip had been going great, I met the client, held a meeting, went to a bar with his associates and then.... blank.
Had I been drugged? Knocked unconscious by some mugger?
I stood up groggily, depending heavily on the wall for support.
An old woman was walking towards me steadily with a cane and as she passed I grabbed onto her arm clumsily.
She shrieked, trying to batt me off with her walking stick.
I wondered what I looked like to her?
A very tall young man in just his undershirt, acting drunk.
A creep.
...Well never mind, this was an emergency, I would explain it to her.
‘Where am I’ I asked desperately, enduring the blows from her cane.
She yelled at me more in a strange, husky, language and I let her go.
What?
Everyone from the capitol had spoken perfect english.
Was I not in the capitol anymore? Was I even in the same country?!
All I knew at that moment I was in some serious trouble.
‘Come on Rex you’re gonna lose!’ I screamed, my feet pounding across the tin roofs of the market place.
The sun was in the dead center of the sky so we had to be quick, two seconds too long on the heated metal and the soles of your feet would be cooked like kebab meat.
My short friend was finding that out the hard way.
‘Ow!’ He cried ‘Wait up Ari! This hurts! We’re to old for this!’
I didn’t falter, hopping from one roof to another, ignoring the stall keepers muttering angrily below.
‘Are you gonna go sook to your mumma?’ I asked laughing ‘If you don’t hurry we’ll miss the free dumplings!’
I was minutes ahead, sprinting faster than a wild dog, feeling as if I had wings for seconds at a time as I jumped gaps and dodged home made chimneys.
It was marvelous! Thrilling! Fun! Like being a kid again.
I thought, for once, we might make it to Mrs Palla’s famous dumpling shop just at closing time, just in time for the left overs.
Suddenly there was a loud crash and Rex fell through a rotten board.
With a bound I dropped to the ground through a hole in the tin, sticking the landing and rushing back through the labyrinth of sellers stalls to find my friend.
I had told the boy to stick to the metal bits but he had to go and ruin it, I sighed, my stomach growling, no dumplings today.
It wasn’t hard to guess where he had fallen, there was already a crowd forming, eager for a spectacle.
A man with a long moustache had the boy by the arm, shouting at him, pointing to a hole in the roof of his stall.
‘Who is going to pay for this huh?! My children? My wife? When we don’t eat to fix something you’ve done, Prince‘ he spat
‘You tell him!’ A woman shouted at the front of the mob ‘People from the upper class shouldn’t be hanging around here!’
Oh no, it looked like an all out caste war was about to begin if I didn’t do something.
If only Rex didn’t stick out like a sore thumb in his sunday clothes complete with a pressed white shirt, suspenders and a smart jacket.
It was obvious that he was high class but he wasn’t a prince exactly, just a prince’s nephew, but that still wasn’t saying much, there were over 100 princes in Perinai.
Someone threw an apple at Rex and they cheered.
Ok thinking time was over!
I ran in through the crowd, grabbing onto the bewildered teenager who was just trying to protect his face.
‘Haha we did it!’ I yelled hugging him. The moustached streetholder growled, shoving me aside, away from the boy.
‘What are you doing here little urchin!’ He barked ‘This is adult business’
‘I am an adult!’ I exclaimed angrily, everyone always got it wrong, I was very slim and a little short, though not quite as tiny as Rex, but enough to make people mistake me as a child.
He didn’t look like he believed me and I was about to argue my point before remembering I had bigger problems at the moment.
I flipped the stall man a copper coin, it wasn’t much, but enough for a piece of wood.
‘I’m sorry that he broke your roof sir we were in a hurry’ I explained, feeling my palm itch as he caught the money.
Well there goes dinner I thought.
‘We stole it from a real prince’s son in the northern district, we were being chased!’
‘Don’t lie to me!’ The man shouted ‘It’s clear he’s a royal, he’s too pale to be one of us and his nails are clean!’
He brought up the kid’s hand for the crowd to see, they gasped at the damning evidence, I frowned this was quickly turning into a trial very quickly and they had not yet put down their fruit.
‘He’s a germaphobe’ I replied smoothly ‘but more to the point do you think a snooty royal would drop through the roof of a market? That they would be on a market roof? With no shoes? Not unless they were taking a piggy back off one of there servants’ I laughed and the crowd did too, people began to dissipate as they lost interest.
When the vendor let go of Rex’s arm my friend ran to me and together we jogged all the way home, to the Northern district.
His mother was waiting at the gate, dressed up elegantly in red silk with beautiful face paint, the whole doll like look was upset when she scowled angrily, marching up to Rex and grabbing his ear, pulling him back.
‘I told you not to play with Urchin’s’ Was all I heard her say as he was dragged behind the wall separating the northern and central sections of the city.
The gate closed behind them with a firm clang.
I walked home hungry and tired, my feet a bit burned and most of all lonely, it was a new moon tonight and there was barely any light to see by which made it all the more startling when a hand reached out from the shadows to snag my ankle.
I jumped back, yelping, but was freed instantly, the hand falling limply to the ground.
Letting my eyes adjust I peered into the dark, leaning forward.
It was a man.
A very long man.
Lying against the wall dressed just in his undershirt looking starved halfway to dead.
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